Summer Lake Fun with the Family

Some of summer's best memories are made on a lake. Canoeing, swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking, and rope swinging into the waters of a lake are the sort of fun-filled summer days remembered for a lifetime with a smile on one's face! Recently, while my California family was vacationing with us, we visited Pawtuckaway Lake, NH located in Pawtuckaway State Park. Nestled in acres of pine trees, the lake provides a day's worth of summer fun and adventure opportunities for the young and the young at heart. We packed along lunches and planned to make a day of it.


There's a rental office lakeside where we rented one canoe and two paddleboards for a half day. (Julia also brought her own paddleboard.) Dave and I paddled the canoe, loaded with camera gear, towels, and our lunch, hoping we didn't tip over and spill our precious cargo. Everyone else divided themselves among the paddleboards. We pushed off from the docks and headed for one of our favorite small islands.


It's a favorite, because it has that large rock protruding from the right side. Easily climbed from the island side, it provides a great place from which to jump into the lake. We slipped our canoes and paddleboards up to the shore and tied them to the tree roots that lace themselves around the earthen edges of the island. Scrambling up the rock, everyone took turns jumping into the "sweet spot" below -- just beyond the rocks. I thought the water would be chilly, but we were all surprised to find it amazingly warm -- cold enough to be refreshing, but warm enough that you wanted to spend the day in it.


The cousins all swam to some nearby rocks and took turns jumping, diving, and (cover my eyes) flipping into the lake. From our little island, I watched as each one went individually. But it was the trio of them jumping together that really made me smile. They're going to cherish these moments forever! Eventually, they swam back to the island and we all nibbled on some wild blueberries before paddling away for more lake fun on another island.




This island is the best for summer lake fun, because it has rope swings! Ahh...this was truly the day all my childhood summer dreams came true!


Dave and I stayed in the canoe, with him intermittently paddling to keep the canoe in position, and me taking photos. Everyone took their turns climbing the rungs nailed to the tree, swinging wildly out, and splashing into the cool lake water. Every swing was unique -- some high, some low, some twisting, some shrieking -- but all equally delightful to watch!





All of us having worked up an appetite, we tied up the canoe near the paddleboards, and pulled out our picnic lunch. Some people ate perched on rocks on the island. But the water felt so refreshing, I just stood in it, next to the canoe, and passed out sandwiches and handfuls of blueberries, and ate my own lunch.


Before we left, we all had to swing on the rope swing. This time, Dave and I went too! Being, quite naturally, a big chicken, I opted to swing out from a rock protruding out of the water. All the fun and none of the terror of jumping from that height was just perfect! So much fun! But Dave braved the rungs up the tree and made a big splash! Then I had to swing again. And everyone else went a couple times before we headed back to the docks to turn in our rentals. Another great day of family lake fun for the books. Can't wait to do it again!


Links and ideas:


pack: sunscreen, hats, towels, waterproof phone cases that float, water bottles

our lunch: ham and Fontina sandwiches on ciabatta rolls, Cape Cod chips, blueberries and brownies

see more: check out the mini-film I made of this trip (and our swim in the Quechee Gorge) on my Instagram feed (click here).

4th of July Party Essentials


Having a solid collection of summer party essentials makes backyard entertaining easy, whether it's a 4th of July party or any summer gathering. Through the years, I've intentionally worked to build a stockpile of really useful items for entertaining. It would've been helpful, early on in our marriage, if I'd seen a trustworthy list, compiled by experienced party planners, to use as a sort of "wish list-shopping list" from which to build a good collection. We'll be pulling out some versatile pieces from our collection for a 4th of July party this week. We frequently host summer parties and backyard cookouts, so here's a list of our favorite summer party essentials:

Serving Pieces - ironstone platters and bowls, pitchers, galvanized tub for icing drinks, beverage dispensers, a variety of serving spoons

Cooking Tools - grill, smoker, hot dog/s'more roasting sticks, cast iron skillets

Decor Items - bunting, collection of American flags (old, new, all different sizes), nautical flags, strings of Edison lights, candle holders and votives

Backyard Games - croquet, giant Jenga, jumbo Yahtzee, horseshoes, badminton, balls, frisbees, bocce

Misc. - Adirondack and other chairs, wooden barrels for trash, serving tables, folding tables, tablecloths, citronella candles, tiki torches

And don't forget the sparklers!
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